The UFC is back home at the Apex this weekend, with fan favorite Derrick Lewis +160 taking on surging contender Sergey Spivak -208 at the top of the card. This card is top-heavy only in the literal sense, as we see two Heavyweight matchups atop this deep card.
All Odds Provided by Stake.com Accurate as of 6:30 PM EST 11/16/2022
Two knockout machines with very different methods square off in the main event. Derrick Lewis is the most decorated knockout artist in UFC history, although there is not much else to his game as he is very low volume and has not had much success grappling. Sergey Spivak is a very high-level wrestler for Heavyweight, and he is very active in hunting damage and submissions.
I've got Spivac here, and I think he finishes the fight early as he is levels ahead of Lewis on the ground. Lewis has lost three of his last four, and if not for his comeback knockout over Curtis Blaydes, he would only have one win in his previous five.
Pick: Spivak O/U: Under 1.5 -118
Great matchmaking here at Lightheavyweight. Ion Cutelaba is a true wildman which has probably cost him a few fights, although he is very dangerous and capable of going all three rounds when he paces himself. Kennedy Nzechukwu is a tough, powerful puncher who showed that in his highlight knockout of Carlos Ulberg.
This one is tough to pick as I believe if Cutelaba shows a good account of himself, he is the better fighter; however, Nzechukwu is very difficult to finish, and any lapse in focus against him could cost the fight.
Pick: Cutelaba O/U: Over 1.5 -127
The first Heavyweight fight on the card here. Chase Sherman is back in the UFC and looked good in a third-round finish of Jared Vanderaa, although it is tough to expect improvements at this stage of his career. Waldo Cortes-Acosta also put on a good show in his UFC debut win over Vanderaa, where he showed he could go three hard rounds.
I'll pick Cortes-Acosta here, although I don't particularly like betting on Heavyweight matchups like this.
Pick: Cortes-Acosta O/U: Over 1.5 -145
This is going to be a tremendous striking match between two durable and dangerous men. Muslim Salikhov is coming off the first knockout loss of his career, although he has historically been a durable and accurate striker. Andre Fialho was a name to watch early in the year with several highlight knockouts, although his hype train was halted his last time out when Jake Matthews was able to capitalize on a lack of head movement and knockout Fialho.
I'm taking Salikhov here as I feel Fialho is a knockout or bust fighter, and I don't think he will win many fights against strikers with more UFC-level experience.
Pick: Salikhov O/U: Under 2.5
The return of highly touted prospect Jack Della Maddalena here as he takes on veteran Danny Roberts. Della Maddalena is a fantastic boxer with an excellent sense for the finish. Danny Roberts is a solid striker, although I do not trust his durability to hold up over three rounds.
Della Maddalena will finish this fight as he is levels above Roberts in striking, and Roberts has durability concerns.
Pick: Della Maddalena O/U: Under 1.5 -130
This is a fun matchup at Flyweight between two talented men looking to get going in the UFC. Zhalgas Zhumagulov has an incredible strength of schedule, and if the Verdict community had scored his last fight, I am almost certain it would've gone to him. Charles Johnson was brought in for a tough debut against Muhammad Mokaev, which showed his weakness in wrestling, although he is very durable and has knockout power.
I'm going to lean with the underdog here in Zhumagulov; however, I would much rather bet the fight to go the distance as I do not believe Zhumagulov can finish the fight, and it will be very close if it gets to the cards.
Pick: Zhumagulov O/U: Over 2.5 -250
An interesting matchup at Flyweight here with big implications. Jennifer Maia has been there with the best in the division and has shown a tough, well-rounded game that can hang with anyone. Maryna Moroz gets a massive step up in competition here after another relatively long layoff.
I'll pick Maia as the underdog here, as this is a big step up from a fighter who has not consistently been in the octagon.
Pick: Maia O/U: Over 2.5 -370
This is a fun matchup here at Bantamweight. Miles Johns is a solid, well-rounded guy with some good showings in the UFC. Vince Morales has shown toughness and good striking, but his weakness in the leg kick is far too apparent to ignore.
If Morales could defend leg kicks, I would bet him here, but I can't take a fighter with such a weakness that has cost them multiple fights.
Pick: Johns O/U: Over 2.5 -159
Former Ultimate Fighter Ricky Turcios returns here against Kevin Natividad. Turcios looked great on his season of TUF; however, he struggled to land punches in his UFC debut, and when he did, they made little effect. Natividad has suffered back-to-back knockout losses since joining the UFC.
I'll pick Turcios here as he will be throwing more strikes, and it is hard to trust Natividad based on what he has shown at this level.
Pick: Turcios O/U: Over 2.5
Fun fight here that is very close, according to oddsmakers. Maria Oliveira is a striker with good pressure and a high finish rate outside the UFC. Vannessa Demopoulos has a good submission game, although her standup has gotten her into trouble.
I've got Oliveira in this one, but this is very close and could come down to any small adjustment.
Pick: Oliveira O/U: Over 2.5 -222
Another good Bantamweight scrap on the card. Fernie Garcia began his career as a submission fighter but earned his way into the UFC with a big knockout on Dana White's Contender Series. Brady Hiestand has a great pace and grappling game; if he develops the striking, I think he can be an excellent fighter.
I like Hiestand here, as Garcia has shown flashes, but he is not entirely on the level of Hiestand yet.
Pick: Hiestand O/U: Over 2.5 -204
Two up-and-coming fighters to watch go at it here to start the card. Natalia Silva has significantly improved over her young MMA career, which showed in an impressive debut win. Tereza Bleda is very young and seemingly short on experience, although she has had many amateur fights and has shown good finishing ability.
I will go with Silva here as she has the experience edge and has shown tremendous growth and resilience, which is a great thing to see from a young fighter.
Pick: Silva O/U: Over 2.5 -238
Muslim Salikhov -115
Sergey Spivak Inside The Distance -143
Jack Della Maddalena by TKO/KO -238
Zhalgas Zhumagulov Charles Johnson Fight Goes The Distance -192